What do members want from a new government?

At the Chartered College of Teaching, we believe that education policy should focus on developing and sustaining teacher professionalism. Policy-makers and the profession need to work together to create sustainable change for the benefit of children and young people. This means that as we move towards a general election, any potential new government needs to engage with educators’ key concerns – so we invited members and Fellows to share their top three asks of a new government.


Improve funding

Unsurprisingly, improving funding is high on the list. Those who responded want ‘Better funding for schools, for us to deliver a quality education for all’ and they want that funding to be ‘inflation linked… taking full account of rises in energy costs and pay increments’. They call for fully-funded pay rises for all school staff, for per-pupil funding to be increased to more sustainable levels ‘so that schools can aim for genuine improvement on a sustainable basis’, and for ‘Capital investment into schools including new buildings/accommodation’, equipment and facilities. 

There are also clear calls for increased funding for SEND pupils and the staff who support them – ‘We need to accept everyone for who they are and support them accordingly’ – and for special schools and for alternative provision and PRUs. Funding is needed too for the early years, both in primary schools and by funding maintained nursery schools. 

It’s not only schools that need funding: large numbers of members also point to the need to fund those services that help pupils and their families, if we are to provide education that works for everyone. Members asked for

greater investment in the wider support networks around schools, including social care, children family & wellbeing, Early Help, school nurses, paediatrics, educational psychology, CAMHS, youth improvement services, to ensure diagnosis pathways are faster, children/families with additional needs can get help, those who are facing mental health challenges, vulnerable young people & families can be supported by experts. Ensure these services can intervene early and work collaboratively to ensure all young people can fulfil their potential.

Tackle the recruitment and retention crisis

Also high on the list is the call for an ‘Urgent strategy to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis in education’. This includes ensuring pay and conditions are attractive for all staff, as well as finding ways to reward those with long experience alongside attracting new people into the profession. In fact, the issue of rewards and recognition for long service comes up many times, often in terms of financial reward, but also in terms of better career opportunities for those who wish to stay in the classroom. Particular attention needs to be paid to attracting and retaining staff in shortage subjects and in particular areas of the country. Members also suggest other financial benefits for teachers, such as offering deals on housing, travel, road tax, council tax, entry to cultural or educational attractions or even half-term travel. Developing and supporting flexible working arrangements, for all staff, is also highlighted as important.

Tackling workload is a key part of the recruitment and retention strategy. Members suggest extending PPA (Planning, Preparation and Assessment) time so that it ‘more closely aligns to the time it actually takes to plan lessons and complete administrative tasks’. Workload reduction recommendations (the 23 tasks for example) should be made statutory ‘with funding provided to ensure that is possible’, and tasks that don’t benefit students, such as ‘paperwork seeking to prove that learning has taken place’ should definitely be cut. As one member puts it, ‘Trusting teachers may help with this!’ Others point out that properly funding children’s services would cut workload by ‘Enabling teachers to focus on teaching and children to receive the care they need outside of the classroom’.

Reform the accountability system

Ofsted comes up time and again in members’ top priorities. There are calls for a review of ‘the purpose of the Ofsted inspection regime’, with suggestions that this is key to retaining staff in the profession. We need a system that reduces pressure, ‘encourages authentic excellence, promotes teacher agency and affirms professionalism’. Making Ofsted more of a partnership with schools could also better support school improvement. Some members believe that Ofsted should be abolished – ‘it is corrupted and unfit for purpose’, ‘currently toxic and often ill-informed, particularly lacking consistency in ITE’ , while others call for fundamental reform. In particular members want to see single-word judgements removed (they’re ‘helping no-one but estate agents.’). There are suggestions for changing the way reports are written to identify areas requiring support and recommendations for action. And there are ideas for how inspection could be carried out differently – with school leaders or school improvement partners who understand local context playing a key role.

But members also want reform of the wider accountability system, to ‘balance the needs and outcomes in more deprived areas’, and to ‘get the balance right between reasonable accountability, agency, autonomy and equity’. This includes removing league tables, ‘reducing the pressure to ‘perform’ for meaningless comparisons between schools’ and finding new ways to hold schools to account on ‘things that matter like positive destinations and learners following courses that are relevant to their needs and interests.’

A considered and informed approach to curriculum and assessment reform

Many, but not all, members call for reform or at least a review of the curriculum and assessment. They want ‘a curriculum led by evidence, not ideology’ and ‘a new curriculum fit for the 21st century’: ‘we should be preparing creative, troubleshooting, adaptable, co-operative learners’. Many call for a ‘stripping back’ – an ‘overhaul of expectations in relation to time in the classroom, with some very specific ideas of what needs to be stripped out (and what doesn’t). Others want a clear focus on priorities, even if that means adding to the curriculum – the arts and creativity, ‘climate, sustainability and biodiversity education’, ‘the central role of media and technology, relationship building and ‘the power of language’. The curriculum should be considered as a whole from early years through to A level, and ‘all learners [should] have opportunity to shine and develop skills and knowledge that will serve them in life’.

Assessment needs ‘a considered and collaborative review leading to reform of ‘assessment at age 16’ to ensure all pupils thrive and attain relevant motivating accreditation, whilst sustaining a genuinely broad and engaging school curriculum’, There are many ideas for reform: ‘a 14-18 curriculum which better reflects the modern age and reduces the wellbeing impact of assessment at 16 and 18’; ‘more agency over [the] medium of assessment’ andmoderated Teacher Assessment with use of standardised tests’ to replace KS2 SATS, Phonics and Multiplication Tables Check’. Both curriculum and assessment need to be more inclusive – ‘not just for academically able youngsters’.

The difficulty of curriculum and assessment reform is that it is contested, and there are also members who ask for ‘no more changes to curriculum’, ‘leave the National Curriculum alone to avoid further unnecessary workload’ and ‘to allow recent changes to properly bed in’, and who suggest that curriculum review should not be the priority. While some call for changes to GCSEs and A level exams, others remind us that there are difficulties with other forms of assessment too. 

If change is to be considered, members are clear that it should be in consultation with ‘actual teachers’. Government could ‘set up an expert panel and have them make decisions based on evidence and research, not politics.’ This could be a ‘non government selected panel/board of leading educationalists and current school leaders…with powers to review’. If there is to be change, it should look to the long term, and be properly tested and funded, in full consultation with the profession.

Value teachers as professionals

Underpinning these calls for change is a key principle that a new government should ‘Value teaching as a profession’. As one member put it, ‘without a teacher you can’t get to any other profession’. Members link this to teacher retention and recruitment: ‘I would ask them to consider how to promote teacher agency and develop subject expertise to make teaching a continually rewarding career which is creative, attractive and sustainable.’ 

There are many calls for respect:  ‘A change in optics of the way teaching is treated and respected by the government, so that the general population will also respect the profession. Making it clear we are an expert and professional body whom the government respects and listens to.’ While this is in part about improving public perception, it is also about trusting teachers to make decisions based on research, experience and training that extends [children’s] thinking [supporting them to] enjoy learning and become confident, independent and competent adults able to draw on strong life skills and add value to the lives of others. Teacher professional learning should be focussed on ‘critical, ethical, theoretical engagement with educational research’ to ‘support intellectual wellbeing’. There are calls to make CPD an expectation of teachers, so that ‘all teachers [can] access continuous professional development, funded properly’. 

Members want to be valued as professionals, with increased professional agency, autonomy, identity and voice. They want a new government committed to ‘Talk to educators (and listen to them) about priorities’. But this isn’t just about making teaching more attractive. It’s vital that a new government should ‘Trust and Listen to the profession as we are professionals invested in changing the world for our children.’

You can read what we think the general election can mean for the future of education [here], and also find all of the education organisations manifestos for education in one place [here].


  • Nigel Jones
    July 5, 2024 at 9:38 pm  -  Reply

    As a retired teacher and head of department, I fully endorse the comment “Both curriculum and assessment need to be more inclusive – ‘not just for academically able youngsters’.” This means blurring or abolishing the false divide between academic and vocational/technical; I also like to use the phrase ‘practical ways of learning’ or ‘experiental learning’. These take rather more time than the more teacher-centred academic approaches and hence the need to reduce the overcrowded curriculum/syllabuses implied by your use of the phrase ‘stripping out’. I am sure this can be achieved, while doing no harm to those very able pupils who thrive on absorbing great swathes of facts and knowledge.

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